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84.What Happened to Neil 1

Chapter 1

I was driving home from the ASPCA when my cell phone rang. I pushed
the button and said, "Hello."

"Hi Mike," the voice said. "It's Connie. We have another one for

"How bad," I asked.

"Not sure," she said. "I just got here myself but from the mumblings
going on, it's pretty bad. This might not be as short term as you

"Alright," I said. "You know I can't refuse you. Where is he?"

"At Memorial," she said.

"OK," I said. "I'll be there in about half an hour."

I pushed the off button and changed lanes so I could head over to
Memorial Hospital. I'm Mike Marshall and I'm a short term foster
parent for special needs boys.

Ever since I was medically retired from the fire department, I
wanted something to do that wasn't too strenuous because of the
number of operations I've had on my back. When I'm not fostering,
I'm a volunteer at the animal shelter working with the cats. When
I've had a bad night or just need some time to think, the cats
provide me with quiet companionship.

Connie Baker is my case worker who assigns the kids to me and she's
probably one of the few females who know my other side that up until
a few years ago was a deep secret. The first boy she ever assigned
to me was a 13 year old who was badly beaten by his father. His
mother did everything she could to stop it but finally after calling
911; she laid him out with a cast iron frying pan.

The police arrived and took both of them to jail and the boy to the
hospital. I had been a foster parent for just a few months and up
until then, I hadn't told her I was gay. When I arrived at the
hospital, we went into the boy's hospital room together so we could
find out what happened. That's when we learned why his father went
off on his tangent. Seems he forgot to clear his history on his
computer and his father found one of the gay sites he regularly

When I heard this, I wasn't sure if the boy would want another man
to be his foster parent. I figured the only way I could work with
him was to let him know I was gay myself but this brought on another
problem. I took Connie aside and said, "Look Connie, I think I can
help him but it means telling you something and it might make me
unfit to you as a foster parent."

"What Mike?" She asked.

I looked at the floor then over to the boy in bed then said, "I'm
gay too. I've known it for a long time but kept is a deep secret.
When my father found out, he was ballistic but I was 16 and could
handle myself."

"You being gay won't make you unsuitable as far as the department is
concerned but you just won't be able to adopt," she said. "We get
boys that have experimented and those, who like him, are in crisis."

I went over and introduced myself to him and he immediately cowered.
I put my hand on his and said, "Son, I know what you're going
through. I went through it myself but not as bad as you have."

He looked at me unsure of what I meant but then said, "Did your Dad
find your private things?"

"No," I said giggling. "This was before computers. He just found me
with my boyfriends."

"Whoa," he said. "I bet you really got it."

"Not really," I said. "See, I was 16 at the time and bigger than we

He looked down and said, "You're lucky, I'm just a little squirt."

I lifted his chin up then said, "You're not a little squirt. You're
going to need a place to stay and someone to look out for you for a
while. Connie here wants to place you with me. What do you think
about that?"

"What about my Mom," he asked. "She didn't do anything. Hell, she
was trying to get him to stop beating me."

"We know that son," Connie said. "When she gets that taken care of,
we'll get you two back together."

"Oh," he said. "Sure, I'd like that. I've never known anyone else
who is gay and it might be nice to have someone to talk with about

Well that was my first foster son and how Connie found out I was
gay. Since then, I've fostered about a dozen boys with most of them
going back with their parents. A few stayed until they turned 18 and
went out on their own but I only had two of those.

I pulled into the hospital parking lot then went to find Connie. She
was waiting for me in the lobby and I could see she was really
upset. "Hey girlfriend," I said smiling. "What's up?"

She shook her head and said, "Mike, this is the worst case I've ever

"How bad," I asked.

"Come with me and we can talk with one of his doctors," she said
heading towards the elevator.

We went up to the third floor and went into the PICU. We went past
several rooms and stopped outside one where I saw a badly injured
child. I looked at Connie and said, "My God, what happened to him?
Did he get run over by a truck?"

"He probably would have been better off if he had," a voice said.

I turned and looked at where the voice came from and there was a
doctor standing behind us. "I'm Dr. French, the young man's
Orthopedic Surgeon. Can you come with me and I can fill you in on
what we know so far."

Connie looked at the doctor and said, "This is Mike Marshall. He
will be the boy's foster parent when he's able to leave here."

"That's going to be a while," Dr. French said. "Now here's what we
know. Paramedics found the kid dumped outside near the entrance to
the ER and brought him in. He was barely alive but we managed to get
him stable in the trauma bay then get him to CT scan. We saw a
lacerated liver, a ruptured spleen, a collapsed lung that was re-
inflated in trauma, a broken ulnar, fractured radius and humorous,
tib/fib fracture and a fractured femur. We also noticed a skull
fracture but there's no bleeding and we have a neurosurgeon
following him. When I saw him someone had really worked him over.
The trauma surgeon removed his spleen and repaired the laceration to
his liver then I went to work. I pinned the bones back and he's in
casts but I don't know what other damage has been done. The
neurosurgeon suspects there will be some deficits mentally but we
won't know the extent of them until he wakes up."

"How long has he been here?" I asked.

"He was found about 7 last night," Dr. French said. "He was brought
into surgery at 7:30 and I finally finished up on him about 3 this

Connie looked at me and said, "I decided to wait on calling you
until we knew weather or not he was going to make it."

"Alright," I said. "Are you keeping him sedated?"

"No," Dr. French said. "We want him to wake up even though we know
he's going to be in pain."

"Can I see him?" I asked.

We went into his room and I immediately ran into the bathroom and
threw up. I'd seen a lot of things during my career but this was by
far the worst. I just couldn't imagine how someone could do this to
another human being, much less a child. "Are you alright?" Dr.
French asked.

I dried my face then said, "Yeah, I am now."

I went over and stood beside his bed and looked at him. His face was
badly bruised and both eyes were blackened and swollen. I closed my
eyes and tried to get a mental picture of him and I knew when the
bruises cleared up, he would be a very good looking boy. "How old is
he?" I asked.

Dr. French shook his head and said, "I've never been a good judge of

I lifted the covers and his gown and looked at his crotch. I would
guess he was somewhere between 13 and 15 judging by the amount of
pubic hair he has. I can't tell how big he is because of the tube in
his penis. I placed the covers back over him then asked, "Am I going
to be governed by the visiting hours here?"

"No," Dr. French said. "I want someone here when he wakes up."

"Alright," I said. "I'll come back in the morning. I don't think
he's gonna wake up much before then."

Connie and I left the PICU not saying anything to each other. As
soon as we were alone however I found a place to sit and broke down
crying. Connie came over and sat beside me and said, "I know Mike;
I've already shed all the tears I have right now."

"How could someone do this to a child?" I babbled. "I thought I'd
seen just about everything when I was a paramedic but this beats it

"I know Mike," she said. "Do you still want to foster him?"

"Oh hell yeah," I said looking up at her. "He's going to have a lot
of problems both mentally and physically and I have the time to
devote to him."

"That's what I thought when I assigned him to you," Connie said as
we got up and headed for the elevator.

We talked some more as we headed for the front door then we set our
separate ways. I got in my car and headed home trying to concentrate
on the road and not let my thoughts drift back to that boy in the
unit. I managed to do a pretty good job because I arrived home in
one piece. I pulled into the driveway then parked and entered my
house. It was almost 8 and I'd missed lunch but for some reason, I
wasn't hungry. I put on the television and tried to get engrossed in
something there but that's when my thoughts started going back to
the hospital.

I knew it was going to be a very long evening so I took my evening
meds a little early then hit the shower. I was drying myself off
when my stomach decided it was empty and needing filling. I went
into the kitchen and tried to figure out what I wanted. I looked in
the freezer and decided to have a couple of pot pies.

While they were cooking I tried to watch television again but there
wasn't really anything on that I was interested in. I went ...

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